“Matt? Baby, can I talk to you?”
From the way he was sitting on the bed, I could tell my husband was far from okay. As soon as we’d got home from the funeral, he’d disappeared into our bedroom without saying a word to anyone. It frightened the kids, who had never seen their dad so upset and so closed off. I’d told them to go play and that I would take care of daddy. But honestly, I didn’t know if I could.
When he didn’t answer me, I sat down on the bed next to him. He avoided my gaze.
“Matt…” I began softly. “Leave it, Evie,” he snapped, “you can’t make me feel better. You just can’t.” “Maybe I’m not here to make you feel better,” I said stubbornly, “maybe I’m just here to talk about how you feel.”
“How I feel?” He finally looked at me, tears of anger and hurt burning in his eyes. My heart ached when I saw him like that. “How do you think I feel? My dad died. And I’ve been a jerk to him my entire life. I didn’t even have the balls to persuade him to come to my wedding, you had to do that for me. I was a terrible son, and now I’ll never be able to make it up to him.”
He started choking up, burying his face in his hands. His voice sounded thick and muffled. “I messed up, Evie. I messed everything up. I must’ve hurt him so bad… I’ve said so many terrible things to him… God, if Allie or Enzo said those things to me, I couldn’t bear it. And even when he moved over here, life got so crazy with work and the kids… I should’ve made more time to see him. To talk to him. But I didn’t, and now it’s too late.”
The sobs turned into real cries. “Matt,” I said, trying to hold back tears myself. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Please. Yes, you’ve made mistakes. And so had your dad. Your relationship wasn’t always easy, but baby, you forgave each other, remember? And he knew you loved him. He truly did. And he loved you so, so much. Don’t ever doubt that. There’s never enough time, darling. If he’d lived ten more years, we would’ve had the exact same conversation.”
I put my hand on his leg and squeezed it softly. “And you know all of those things. You just can’t see it right now, because you’re hurting. And that’s okay. But it will get better. It always does.”
Matt had stopped crying, but still wouldn’t talk to me.
“Just leave me alone for a second, okay? I just… need to think for a while.”
I sighed and nodded. “Okay.”
As I walked out into the back yard, the kids stopped their game and looked at me with curious, apprehensive faces.
“Is daddy feeling better?” Enzo asked. “Not quite yet,” I smiled. “But he will. Don’t worry about that, you two.”
After Evie left, I sat on the bed for a while. I was so young when my mother past away, and losing her was so, so hard. But the guilt I felt now was even worse. I wish I’d had more time… More time to make up for all the arguments, all of the years we’d lost, all of the things I’d never told my dad. What was the last time I’d told him I loved him? I couldn’t remember.
And that’s when I realized something. I might not have been a perfect son, but I still had the chance to a perfect dad. To make my own father proud of me. And that had to start right now.
I promptly got up and went outside, where the kids were with Evelynne. She looked surprised to see me, but said nothing. I knelt down and hugged first Enzo, then Allie.
“I love you guys,” I whispered. “I love you guys so much. Don’t you ever forget that, okay?”
They both mumbled ‘okay’ and then Matt stood up and looked at my wife. “And that counts for you, too,” I said, with a slight smile, “never forget how much I love you. And how much I love that you can always make me feel better.”
“I won’t,” she smiled. “Don’t worry. We’re a family, Matt. We’re always here for each other.”
“Yes. We are a family.”
And at that moment, I truly felt surrounded with love and support.